Because Australia is a vast country, the best Australian beaches are scattered all over the country. Here are the very best.
By AJ Paris
Without a doubt, to see the top Australian beaches, you will have to be open to traveling to various parts.
Each region has its uniqueness that deserves exploration.
As a result, this article will focus on several cities.
For example, we will start with Sydney, go north to Brisbane, and end up in Cairns.
Then, we will go to the northern tip to Darwin, then to Perth in the west, and Adelaide to the south.
Of course, we will also go and explore Melbourne in the southeast.
Meanwhile, we will travel with an American named Michael, as he goes after beaches on his dream list.
To give you context, keep in mind that Michael is a successful businessman in his 30s and is traveling solo.
Let’s kick off our Australian beaches odyssey in Sydney!
Although Canberra is the capital, Sydney gets a lot more travelers than anywhere else in Australia.
“There are many reasons to visit Sydney,” says Michael, an American traveler. “Of course, iconic beaches are a good reason.”
So, there are over 100 beaches in Sydney.
For instance, there are harbor beaches, bay beaches, river beaches, and ocean beaches.
What are some of the famous beaches?
Think of Bondi Beach, Manly Beach, and Bilgola Beach.
“I have seen those famous images of Bondi,” says Michael, who went straight to the beach the day he arrived.
Bondi, which translates to “surf” in a local Aboriginal language, is globally known.
“I like the graffiti, too,” says Michael.
Likewise, there is Bronte Beach, Shark Beach, Palm Beach, and Avalon Beach.
In other words, there are tons of beaches here.
Michael recommends staying nearby to whichever beach you’re visiting most.
“I knew I wanted to go to Bondi a lot,” he says. “So, I booked an Airbnb not far from there.”
Because of its status as a global city, hotels in Sydney can be expensive.
“Even hostels are expensive here,” says Michael, who admits he was spoiled by the cheap hotel rates in other parts of the world. “I was in Bangkok and Bali before I came here,” he says. “It was easy to find top-notch hotels for less than $100 a night, but not in Sydney.”
Of course, one way to beat the odds is to book ahead, says Michael.
Sydney, as the most important city of the country, plays as a hub to a lot.
As a result, traveling from here to other parts of the country is very easy!
“I plan to go to Brisbane next,” says Michael.
Of course, we will tag along!
When many think of Australian beaches, they think of Brisbane.
Brisbane, and its Queensland state, should be on the top of your beaches list!
Michael says he has wanted to come to Brisbane for years.
“It was my best friend and his father; they are both surfers,” remembers Michael. “It was them that got me hooked on to it because they showed me the photos from their trip. I must have been like fifteen.”
Of course, Brisbane has a lot more to offer than a teenage dream!
With the Sunshine Coast just north and Gold Coast south, Brisbane is a beach destination.
“Even Australians come here for surfing,” says Cameron, a local surfer instructor. “I mean, we do have an area called Surfers Paradise,” he adds. “And, of course, the Sunshine Coast has a huge uninterrupted coastline,” says Cameron.
For 11 unbroken miles, between Sunshine Beach and Coolum Beach, the Sunshine Coast gives you a beach vibe.
Meanwhile, the iconic Gold Coast beach of Burleigh Heads Beach, with the skyscrapers in the distance, is a surfer’s mecca.
“I’m so happy to be here,” says Michael, snapping a selfie, smiling so big. “I just can’t believe I’m here. This experience is awesome.”
Of course, there are specific beaches for specific activities.
For instance, head to Suttons Beach for some swimming and enjoy its popular park and pavilion.
And animal lovers, or if you’re traveling with your furry buddies, you will enjoy Nudgee Beach, which has a dog park.
Meanwhile, Morwong Beach is very idyllic and has Aboriginal roots.
Sandpiper Beach has camping and kayaking activities.
Finally, Frenchmans Beach is very scenic, super remote, and has rocky outcrops.
Of course, there are more beaches, too!
Next, Michael decides to head to Cairns.
On their hunt for the best Australian beaches, most travelers overlook Cairns.
Cairns, which is often considered the gateway to the legendary Great Barrier Reef, is full of beaches.
“I have wanted to visit the Great Barrier Reef,” says Michael. “Then I read I should visit Cairns first. So, it was enough to get me to come.”
Undoubtedly, the Great Barrier Reef is a great place to visit.
Because it is the world’s most extensive coral reef system, it deserves its own space in another article.
However, this article focuses on the beaches.
So, what are some of the beaches?
Palm Cove Beach is probably the one that you would associate with this city.
“But it is not in Cairns,” says Michael, who visits the beach.
Yes, Palm Cove is a town outside of Cairns.
It is about 17 miles (or 26 km) north of Cairns airport.
“There are so many paperbark trees here,” says Michael.
The beach is gorgeous, as there are tons of palm trees along the water’s edge.
Meanwhile, the Cairns area is home to beaches like Yorkeys Knob Beach, Machans Beach, Barron Beach, and Second Beach.
Meanwhile, there are nearby beach areas known for specific things.
For instance, there is Trinity Beach, which is known for its crocodiles, wallaby, and beautiful beaches.
Likewise, the Kewarra Beach area is known for its beach seaside resort life, although it is home to some crocodiles.
Similarly, there is Ellis Beach, which is full of crocodiles, has tons of surfing spots, and is even great for camping!
Next, Michael decides to head to the northern tropical city of Darwin.
Darwin, named after the famous evolutionary scientist, is located in the tropical Northern Territory.
What do people come here for, you ask?
“The world-famous Kakadu National Park,” says Michael.
Kakadu is the largest national park in Australia, and it covers nearly 8,000 square miles (or 2,000 square kilometers).
In the park, there are a lot of exciting things.
For example, there are wetlands and rivers, as well as tons of plant species and wildlife.
Likewise, there is a rich history of Aboriginal people that date back to prehistoric times.
Meanwhile, there are a lot of beautiful beaches in this area.
For example, there are Wagait Beach, East Point Reserve, and the Tiwi Islands.
Likewise, there are Dundee Beach and Mindil Beach.
“I like Mindil Beach,” says Michael.
Mindil Beach is the closest good beach to the center of Darwin.
However, it is part of a suburb called The Gardens.
“It is about 2 miles away from where I’m staying,” says Michael, who stayed near the Darwin Waterfront Precinct.
“One day, I walked back from the beach, and it took about an hour,” he says.
Michael remembers stopping by the Crocosaurus Cove, which gives you a chance to swim with a crocodile.
The “Cage of Death,” as it is dubbed, is a dive into saltwater crocodile ridden waters inside a transparent cage.
“I was able to grab some pictures,” says Michael. “But I have to admit, that was scary!”
Yes, it is!
Next, Michael wanted to visit Perth.
You must include Perth in your Australian beaches list!
Perth, on the western side of Australia, also has some fascinating beaches.
For example, there are Scarborough Beach, Trigg Beach, Cottesloe Beach, and Brighton Beach.
“I love Cottesloe Beach,” says Michael, talking about the most popular beach in Perth. “It has everything you would want in a beach. Plus, you felt like you were not in the middle of town.”
Well, that is because this beach is in Cottesloe, a suburb.
Cottesloe Beach, which the locals often refer to as “Cott,” has a lot of Norfolk Island pines.
“However, it is the sunsets that made me fall in love with this beach,” says Michael.
This beach is also lined up with cafes and pubs, giving you a chance to sample the local lifestyle.
So, there is a lot of beer in Perth.
For instance, Michael enjoyed hanging out at Bright Tank Brewing Co, which is in East Perth.
The company has a location where brewery, bar, and restaurant are all rolled into one.
So, Michael had a snack with beer.
“It was delicious,” he says afterward. “Hey, look, you’re in the western edge of Australia, what else are you going to do except eat and beach?”
Of course, Perth has a lot to offer to tourists.
For example, a Japanese couple had enjoyed a lot in the area.
They had the famous Bell Tower, from which you get incredible views.
Likewise, they visited the Fremantle Prison and learned about prison life.
Similarly, they sampled food and shopping at Elizabeth Quay, which is a cool waterfront area.
However, Michael was hanging out at the beaches!
Next, Michael wanted to go to Adelaide.
Adelaide is in the southern part of Australia.
It is the capital of the state of South Australia.
Meanwhile, it has beautiful beaches such as Glenelg Beach, Henley Beach, and Maslin Beach.
Likewise, there is St Kilda Beach, Snowden Beach, Semaphore Beach, Brighton Beach, and Hallett Cove Beach.
Glenelg Beach caught Michael’s attention immediately.
“Because it is a chill-out beach,” he defends his choice. “For example, there are low waves,” he adds. “Likewise, the water is kind of shallow for a while.”
In other words, Glenelg is the type of beach to visit when you just want to hang out.
After sunset, Michael heads to Rundle Mall, a trendy pedestrian street mall lined with shops, cafes, and galleries.
“I love shopping in Australia,” says Michael, who argues there are unique items here.
For example, there are Australian department stores like David Jones and Myer.
Likewise, there are also the mom and pops spots, too.
For instance, Michael found handmade jewelry in a tiny place in the mall owned by a woman named Sarah Rothe.
“I think I will get these earnings,” says Michael, pointing to leafy designs.
Later, Michael tells me his mother loves leafy jewelry and has been purchasing something for her wherever he is around the world.
“And when they are handmade, she is even more excited,” he says.
Next, Michael decides to head to Melbourne!
Melbourne is the second most popular destination for travelers in Australia, after Sydney.
Located on the southeast coast of the country, Melbourne, as you can imagine, has tons of beautiful beaches.
The most popular and colorful is, without a doubt, Brighton Beach.
“I knew I would want to come here,” says Michael, as he arrives at the beach an hour before sunset. “Wow,” he adds. “It is more beautiful in reality than in pictures.”
Brighton Beach is in Brighton, which is an affluent suburb that is just southeast of Melbourne.
The beach is famous for its Victorian shower boxes, which come in every color you can imagine.
Likewise, there are beaches like Sandridge Beach, Port Melbourne Beach, Chelsea Beach, and Sunnyside North Beach.
Similarly, there are Back Beach, Dimmicks Beach, and Somers Beach.
So, Michael has a friend in Melbourne, a woman named Charlotte.
Charlotte takes us to several points of interest, including the famous Finders Street Railway Station.
It is a busy train station known for its Edwardian architecture, especially its beautiful dome.
Likewise, we visit the historic Queen Victoria Market, which every traveler must-see.
Similarly, we explored the CBD (Central Business District), including Federation Square and the graffiti lanes.
After Melbourne, Michael decided to go back to Asia.
So, when asked about his overall experience at the Australian beaches, Michael had this to say:
“I loved them all,” he says. “However, I would tell travelers to plan their trips wisely. Make sure to know where you are going and why, and don’t just wander. Australia is an incredible destination if you know what you’re doing!”
In other words, he enjoyed it!
Australia is one of the most exciting countries you will ever visit.
Because the country occupies an entire continent, you are bound to encounter differences in its regions.
For example, Sydney has a temperate climate and is warm all year long.
That is, you can visit any time without having to worry about ruining your vacation.
However, Darwin is in the tropics and has wet and dry seasons.
In other words, when it is wet, it is really wet!
So, keep that in mind as you plan your trip to the Australian beaches.
AJ Paris is a travel photographer based in New York. He is the editor of Caravanzers.